Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Top 10 Apologies Barack Obama should make to the world

The first year of Barack Obama’s presidency was marked by a series of embarrassing and groveling apologies for his country on the world stage. From his apology to the French for America’s supposed “arrogance”, to his massive mea culpa before the Muslim world in Egypt, President Obama succeeded in elevating national humiliation into an art form.

In his second year, I would strongly encourage the president to stop apologising for his country, and project more pride in his great nation’s past. The United States, together with Great Britain, have done more to advance the cause of liberty and freedom on the world stage than any other nations in history. From defeating the menace of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Empire, to liberating tens of millions of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US and UK have consistently been at the forefront of the defence of the free world in the face of tyranny.

If President Obama does feel the urge to show contrition on the world stage in 2010, he should apologise not for his country but for his administration’s shoddy treatment of its allies as well as political dissidents fighting for freedom across the world. He has also shown extraordinary indifference towards the victims of Communist rule in Europe, as well as the hundreds of thousands who perished in Darfur at the hands of the Sudanese regime. While every dictatorship on earth, from Iran to Venezuela to Sudan has been earmarked for engagement by the Obama White House, some of America’s closest friends and supporters have been shunned, humiliated or left out in the cold.

So here is a list of apologies that Barack Obama should make on behalf of his own administration, for undermining America’s traditional alliances, treating America’s friends with contempt, and refusing to side with the victims of totalitarian regimes.

1. Apology to the British people

Barack Obama’s treatment of America’s closest ally has been little short of appalling. It started off badly when he threw a bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office within days of coming to power, and went downhill from there. He humiliated the British Prime Minister during his visit to Washington last March, treating him like the leader of a Third World country, and sent him packing with a gift of 25 DVDs. Obama has little interest in the Special Relationship, and cannot even bring himself to acknowledge the sacrifice of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. As an exceedingly rude and ignorant senior State Department official put it - “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”

2. Apology to allies in Eastern and Central Europe

The Obama administration’s cowardly decision to appease Moscow by pulling out of an agreement to install missile interceptors and radars in Poland and the Czech Republic was an appalling betrayal of key US allies who had faced up to intense intimidation from Russia. As I wrote at the time, “the impending cancellation of Third Site is a shameful abandonment of America’s friends in eastern and central Europe, and a slap in the face for those who actually believed a key agreement with Washington was worth the paper it was written on.”

3. Apology to Iranian Dissidents

Barack Obama’s appeasement of the brutal Iranian regime in the name of “engagement” has not only emboldened Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs, but has also undercut the millions of Iranians who have bravely protested against the Islamist theocracy. President Obama has remained largely silent in the face of the brutal beating, rape, torture and murder of thousands of political dissidents since Ahmadinejad was fraudulently re-elected last year. Obama’s refusal to take a strong stand for fear of offending the Iranian regime is a disgrace, and a damning indictment of his world leadership.

4. Apology to the victims of Communism

Barack Obama made Berlin a central stage of his presidential election campaign when he addressed an adoring crowd of hundreds of thousands of Germans in July 2008. However in November 2009, President Obama could not be bothered to fly to Berlin to attend the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, when even the Russian president showed up. Hillary Clinton stood in for the commander-in-chief and delivered an underwhelming speech that was more about Obama than American leadership in the Cold War. The White House decision to snub the Berlin ceremony was an insult to the memory of the tens of millions who perished at the hands of Communism in Europe. It demonstrated a callous disregard for human suffering and a refusal to acknowledge the huge role played by Ronald Reagan and the American people in bringing down the Iron Curtain. It also displayed what can only de described as an arrogant disdain for the transatlantic alliance.

5. Apology to the victims of the Sudan genocide

The Obama administration’s decision to engage with the brutal regime in Khartoum led by Omar Hassan al-Bashir, was both shocking and morally sickening. Obama’s special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Major General J. Scott Gration summed up the new US strategy when he ludicrously declared: “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries — they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.” This sent an appalling signal to would be genocidal regimes across the world that even they can be rehabilitated after murdering hundreds of thousands of people. Although it has received relatively little attention, the White House’s offer to lift sanctions against Sudan in exchange for “concrete steps in a new direction”, was one of the worst decisions made by Barack Obama since he took office.

6. Apology to the people of Honduras

It is still difficult to fathom the reasoning behind the White House’s incredible decision to side with Marxist despot Manuel Zelaya after he was removed by the Honduran Congress with the backing of the country’s Supreme Court. The Obama administration immediately condemned the fully constitutional actions of pro-American legislators who acted against a power-hungry figure determined to stay in power beyond his fixed term of office. Bizarrely, the White House aligned itself with the likes of America-hating tyrants like Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega against pro-democracy forces who love the United States.

7. Apology to the Israeli people

Barack Obama has shown less enthusiasm for backing Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, than any president since Jimmy Carter. His speech before a Muslim audience in Cairo in June set the tone for his approach towards Israel when he controversially drew parallels between the plight of the Palestinians and the Jewish people during the Holocaust, and used the word “occupation” describing Palestinian refugee camps. Obama’s weakness in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat has also caused widespread concern, and has significantly increased the likelihood that Israel will have to defend itself against Iran.

8. Apology to pro-democracy forces in Venezuela

Barack Obama’s handshake with Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas last April set the tone for a new, more amicable US relationship with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief ally in Latin America. It was a move that hugely undercut the democracy movement in Venezuela, and the millions of Venezuelans who are clamouring for freedom. Washington’s silence over widespread human rights violations by the Chavez regime is yet another blight on the Obama administration’s reputation. The president’s decision to reach out to Chavez was also a dangerously naive gesture that offered a veneer of legitimacy to one of the world’s biggest state sponsors of international terror, with close ties to Iran, Syria and Sudan.

9. Apology to the Dalai Lama

As The Telegraph reported last October, Barack Obama was the first US president to refuse to meet the Dalai Lama since the Tibetan spiritual leader first started visiting Washington nearly 20 years ago. This, despite the fact that he had been welcomed to the United States no less than 10 times, and had been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian award. The White House decision was taken in order not to offend Beijing ahead of a November summit with Hu Jintao. There is now speculation Obama has changed his mind and will meet with the Dalai Lama later this month, despite strong Chinese opposition. A perfect opportunity then for an apology to one of the great symbols of freedom on the world stage.

10. Apology to Chinese dissidents

Freedom in China has been given short thrift by the Obama administration, which has attached less importance to human rights across the world than any American government in modern times. The position of the Obama team was put bluntly by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when she was questioned about Chinese state oppression in a press roundtable in South Korea last February: “but our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis. We have to have a dialogue that leads to an understanding and cooperation on each of these.” Not exactly a message of US support for thousands of Chinese pro-democracy activists who regularly face imprisonment, beatings and torture.

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